Like a lot of organisations, NIEA has quite a lot of staffing pressures, and COVID has not helped things. Nonetheless, we still have targets that have been set for good for good reason and which we should be seeking to fulfil.
We also have the complication of what we are going to do about ammonia. I have indicated that, at the moment, we should use the 1% threshold, as opposed to the 0·1% threshold that the Shared Environmental Services (SES) referred to, while we produced the ammonia strategy, which is almost ready to go out. It is entirely reasonable for us to do that, given that the ammonia strategy is a plan to significantly reduce the amount of ammonia in the atmosphere. Consequently, it would be a better instrument to deal with the issue than planning.
I thank the Minister for his response. The Minister will be aware of the seriousness of the situation. Many farms are trying to re-do existing old buildings and re-roof them, but they are being held up by NIEA. I am sure that the Minister is fully aware of the importance of this matter being addressed.
Absolutely. One of the issues that is holding back the farm business investment scheme from being rolled-out further is the ability of people to actually get planning approvals to carry out the investments that they wish to make. The remarkable thing is that, in some instances, the refurbishment or replacement of existing buildings would lead to lower ammonia emissions, yet the planning refusal recommendations still exist. We really do need to have a practical, common-sense approach to this, and as I indicated very clearly, planning is not the means of doing it. Having an ammonia strategy that is effective in reducing the amount of ammonia getting into our atmosphere is the way forward.